Marc-eting 101: I Want To Be Scared

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This week marked the 12th annual Advertising Week New York conference– a week-long celebration and exploration of topics relevant to the advertising, branding, and marketing industries. After attending events throughout the week, we asked our President, Marc Sampogna, what his best experience was at this year’s AdWeek NY.

As Halloween approaches, discussing something “scary” is never more appropriate. At this years AdWeek NY, I experienced some interesting topics and conversations. All of which uncovered insights that I’m sure I’ll use at some point in my day-to-day. But one in particular really resonated with me, and that was with Seth Godin (sethgodin.com). Now, I’ve seen him speak a number of times, and have read some of his books, e.g., Purple Cow, All Marketers Tell (Lies) Stories, etc., but something about this talk hit me in a different way… a good way — in a way that gets lost in the world of marketing and creativity these days. He spoke about “fear”, and that if you, the agency/creative/strategist/etc. aren’t afraid, then you’re not doing your job (Insert resounding agreement and praise here).


Why is it that we filter down our ideas, and dilute the creativity out of them just so they’ll do something average? Well, it’s, as Seth stated, because “average is what reaches 100 million people”. Average is mainstream. Average is a sure thing. Look, from a business perspective, I get it, we gotta sell tickets, put asses in the seats, move shit off shelves, etc. But for f#@ks sake who the hell wants to be “average”??!! I sure as hell don’t. I want to be scared. I want to be afraid. I want to take risks. I want to hold nothing back. Put myself out there and do things that make me uncomfortable. Because if it means that the ideas I put forth are genuine, and inspired from within, then whether it fails or not, I can move ahead knowing that I stayed true to what matters to me — not being average.

Penny For Your Thoughts

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Minimum wage in the United States is recognized as a sign of financial instability, but it is rarely understood exactly how incredibly draining minimum wage labor actually is.

Blake Fall-Conroy, an artist who strives to create “socially-conscious” pieces, has conceptualized an ingenious way to demonstrate the frustrating, monotonous, and often demeaning plight of minimum-wage worker.

Fall-Conroy invented the “minimum wage machine,” a device with a hand-crank that the user turns continuously, and dispenses a penny every 4.5 seconds. An hour will earn you $8 in pennies, which until eight months ago was the minimum wage in the state of New York.

The artist hopes that the machine will help people understand the amount of work that goes into making just $8/hour, and perhaps inspire sympathy for those who work minimum-wage jobs or provoke change in legislation that will raise the minimum wage (the minimum wage in New York is now $8.75).

What Sparks Our Fire: Art that serves a purpose and sparks social awareness.

Love Has No Labels

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As Pride Month comes to a close and the remnants of confetti are swept off the streets following the landmark Supreme Court marriage equality decision, brands have started showing their support for LGBTQ through mass marketing campaigns. However, the advertising industry is embracing a new kind of LGBTQ acceptance in its productions: “gay-inclusive.” Instead of drawing attention to the subject’s sexual orientation, these brands succeed in telling a story while normalizing LGBTQ relationships. From dancing skeletons to dancing wedding parties, here are five of our favorite ads that show how LGBTQ acceptance has shaped the definition of inclusivity in the media.
Taking home an unprecedented number of awards at the Cannes Lion Festival, the viral “Love Has No Labels” campaign was designed by the Ad Council to raise awareness of implicit racial, sexual, and religious bias, premiering on Valentine’s Day in Santa Monica earlier this year. The inspiring “Love Has No Labels” tagline also was prominently featured in the New York City Pride Parade, which took place a day after the campaign’s Cannes victory.
Although its debut was back in 2013, the Kindle Paperwhite commercial is still praised by critics as one of the most innovative gay-inclusive ads, using a humorous approach portray acceptance of LGBTQ couples as a social norm rather than highlighting the differences for the purpose of awareness, and avoiding all-too-common “gay male” stereotypes.
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The commercial for the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite was commended for its normalization of gay couples and absence of gay male stereotypes.

This heartwarming spot depicts two women preparing to adopt a deaf child, and its positive portrayal of LGBTQ relationships, adoption, and strong family values, minus the overt “pride” motif, sets the standard for diversity in advertising.
Hallmark’s “Put Your Heart to Paper” campaign is a poignant expression of love of all kinds, and emphasizes the lasting impact of the spoken word. By featuring the couple in the same fashion as it would a same-sex couple, Hallmark succeeds in demonstrating a shift away from gay-focused and toward “gay-inclusive” ads.
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If you blink, you may miss this one—the video shows several wedding parties joyously celebrating their marriages, one of them between two brides. It also features guest performers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who gained recognition for their support of the gay community with their song “Same Love” back in 2012.
What Sparks Our Fire: Brands that celebrate diversity through exceptionally creative and high-impact storytelling

Festivus Comes Early This Year

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This week, as an early Festivus present, thousands of people will cross one more thing off of their Dream-things-to-do-in-New-York bucket list, by stopping by their old pal Jerry Seinfeld’s place. His fictional apartment, that is. A re-creation of the famous Upper West Side apartment will pop-up thanks to Hulu on 14th street near Chelsea Market on Wednesday, and will be open through Sunday. This fan-driven activation will celebrate the introduction of ‘Seinfeld’ to the Hulu catalog.

Similar activations have been created to celebrate ‘Arrested Development’ and ‘Friends’. The ‘Central Perk’ pop-up cafe was co-sponsored by Eight O’Clock Coffee and Warner Brothers, and gave both brands a valuable way to connect fans with one of the most popular shows in television history. Both of these activations were incredibly popular and generated long lines just to get close to the action.

Activations like these allow fans to engage with their favorite shows in an exciting way– they can actually place themselves into the show they normally see through a television or laptop screen. The promise of a great selfie on Jerry’s couch might just be enough to make the long line worth it.

If you’d like to see if Jerry has a copy of Kramer’s coffee table book about coffee tables on his coffee table, the apartment will be open June 24th through June 28th from 10 AM to 7 PM at 451 West 14th Street.

What Sparks Our Fire: Seinfeld… enough said.

A Tree Grows Underneath Manhattan

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What can you do with an abandoned underground trolley terminal? In Manhattan, where space is at a premium, there are a billion creative uses for this subterranean expanse. In 2011, James Ramsey, Dan Barasch, and R. Boykin Curry IV proposed a radical idea for the space that sat unused for over 60 years– turn it into an underground park. The idea immediately resonated with New Yorkers, drew massive media attention, and got a wildly successful Kickstarter get off the ground. And this month, Ramsey, Barasch, and Curry have returned with a new Kickstarter to fund a test lab, bringing them once step closer to the reality of their Lowline park.

The test lab for the Lowline mostly aims to test the special technology that engineers have built to bring sunlight underground. Solar panels at street level will act as sunlight receptacles. Sunlight will then be funneled underground where it can be disseminated to the plants living below. Where UV lamps might have been used in the past, the Lowline is revolutionary because it aims for sustainability. Additionally, visitors will be able to go to the test lab this Fall to see the results in action.

Calling their park the Lowline as a nod to Chelsea’s High Line, the creators have acknowledged the huge impact that green public spaces can have on the surrounding community. The High Line was similarly built on abandoned elevated train tracks on the west side of Manhattan, with the first phase opening to visitors in 2009. With almost 5 million annual visitors, the High Line’s presence has revitalized the surrounding community in a way that the Lowline hopes to emulate on the Lower East Side.

Learn more on the Lowline’s website and Kickstarter.

What Sparks Our Fire: Sustainable public spaces spurring cutting edge technological and economic benefits